Monday, February 27, 2012

Romney being Romney

Greg Sargent has a theory on why Mitt Romney's political transformations are met with a yawn these days.

It’s worth wondering whether Romney is benefitting from a kind of “flip flop fatigue,” in which the crush of equivocations, reversals and rhetorical contortions has gotten so relentless and ubiquitous that people are too exhausted to bother tracking or objecting to them anymore.

So is there flip-flop fatigue?

I'd say "yes" and "no."

If you've noticed, Santorum and Gingrich suffer much more acutely from past heresies than Romney. That's because a lot of people didn't know about their problems until this cycle.

In Romney's case, conservatives already accepted he was a liberal Republican and nothing he once said or did shocks them anymore.

An analogy.

When Manny Ramirez did his "Manny being Manny" routine, it was mostly met with a frustrated yawn, but by the end, didn't really shock or outrage anyone.

Everyone knew what they were getting.

Sure, fans got annoyed, but you took the good, knowing there was a lot of bad. So what if Manny jogged lightly in the outfield and picked dandelions when triples were hit? You couldn't be too mad, because well, that was Manny being Manny.

Now -- imagine if Tim Tebow were late to training camp, started moaning in the third person about how disrespected he was, took off his shirt at press conferences and cursed Woody Paige in the locker room.

The nation would come unglued, and he'd probably be more unpopular than Manny Ramirez ever was.

I think that's what's going on here. Romney is the Manny Ramirez of the race -- deeply unpopular with the GOP, yes, but conservatives aren't shocked anymore by his heresies.

But.... when his conservative opponents disappoint, there's a real sense of betrayal, and that's a deeply hostile emotion.

Now, having said that, I think that Romney's past still haunts him, and it's why he's been so vulnerable and unloved this entire cycle. His image is entirely set in stone, and that's a good and bad thing. It's bad because he's officially the Flip-Flopper of the race, but it's good because everyone knows that and doesn't expect anything differently.

Who cares if he once supported No Child Left Behind? That's just Manny being Manny. It's just skipping a few days of training camp.

Fans wince, yawn, and then hold up his signs because they think he can, ultimately, win.